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In Las Vegas, There Are Swarms Of Grasshoppers Big Enough To Show Up On Weather Radar


Like gamblers and tourists, grasshoppers are drawn to the lights of Las Vegas. Every year, they migrate north. This year, there are a lot of them.


How many? Well, enough to show up on weather radar. Jeff Knight is an entomologist for the state of Nevada - a bug scientist. He says pallid-winged grasshoppers swarm after a wet winter generally about every seven to 10 years.


JEFF KNIGHT: But they're really moving into the cities mainly because of the lights.

SHAPIRO: That's actually from a recorded statement that his office issued to the media. He does not sound too excited about this. On the other hand, meteorologists are thrilled, says Scott Roeben. He runs vitalvegas.com, a site for tourists with info about what's going on around town.

SCOTT ROEBEN: Because the weather is pretty consistent, the weather persons really don't have a lot to talk about, so they love anything out of the norm. And this is absolutely out of the norm (laughter).

CORNISH: The grasshoppers arrived in the city a few days ago. They clustered around the hotel and casino lights in the hundreds of thousands - just one more attraction on the Vegas strip.

ROEBEN: I did not witness firsthand the kind of apocalyptic swarms that people have shared on social media, actually. My encounters have been very innocuous with individuals. And I find them adorable.

SHAPIRO: Even if you don't find them adorable like Scott Roeben, they're not really annoying by insect standards. Grasshoppers won't bite you. They won't get you sick. And, anyway, they won't be around for long.

ROEBEN: A lot of the hotels right now are in cleanup mode. They are removing the (laughter) lovely carcasses of these little creatures. It's on the wane, I would say, at the moment.

CORNISH: They may be on the wane, but they're not gone yet, says state entomologist Jeff Knight.

KNIGHT: Well, the grasshoppers should continue for a maybe another week and a half or so. And the populations will start dropping off.

SHAPIRO: If all of this is making you cringe, just wait. Here is Scott Roeben, the tourism blogger's pitch.

ROEBEN: Aside from the minor creepy factor, people should still come and have fun and see it for what it is. In Las Vegas, we're always looking for things that are good luck. And in Asian culture, grasshopper's very lucky, so there's a high concentration of luck in Las Vegas at the moment.

SHAPIRO: In other words, don't skip Vegas because it's currently swarmed by grasshoppers. Come because it's currently swarmed by grasshoppers.

(SOUNDBITE OF DATAROCK SONG, "FA-FA-FA") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.